Drug cheats will find it harder to escape the new tests which can ascertain the presence of a class of performance enhancing drugs, researchers from Germany said.
While Beijing Olympics were remarkably drug free with only six athletes being caught during the games, rumours are rife that many athletes were actually using performance-enhancing drugs that could not be detected using standard tests.
AdvertisementIt is suspected that some athletes were using compounds that have not yet been tested in humans, but have shown performance enhancing properties in animal trials.
Because these compounds are in the early stage of development and no test has been developed, so their use will go undetected.
The test detects a core chemical structure belonging to a class of compounds called benzothiazepines.
These compounds stabilise protein channels that would otherwise "leak" calcium from muscle cells during strenuous exercise. Calcium is needed for muscle contraction and this "leaking" effect weakens the contractions and is a causal factor in muscle fatigue.
In a study conducted using mouse model, JTV-519 and S-107, benzothiazepines currently in development for the treatment of heart abnormalities, are known to increase endurance.
"As soon as these drugs enter human clinical trials, there is a huge potential for them to be misused in sports. This preventive research lets us prepare before these compounds are officially launched," said lead researcher Mario Thevis, Director of the Center for Preventive Doping Research at the German Sport University of Cologne, Germany.
The researchers think the simple nature of the compounds means they are easy to make and sell to drug cheats as endurance boosters on the black market.
The researchers will be conducting further studies to look for the molecules created by the metabolic breakdown of the compounds once they have entered the human body.
This will give researchers a wider scope of compounds by which to identify cheats when screening samples.
The study appears in issue of the new journal, Drug Testing and Analysis.
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